Composing

What is one doing during the creation of hypertext?

I used to use the term "authoring" back in the pre-HTML days when I was trying to impress upon anyone the difference between merely being able to display links and having the jumps occur more-or-less predictably, and the very real difficulty of writing and thinking hypertext.

I abandoned this term, partly because it gained currency to describe the process of labouriously inserting markup codes into perfectly legible text; and partly because I detest gratuitous verbing of nouns; but mainly because Lez hit upon a more apt term: "composing".

"Compostion" has connotations from the disciplines of both typography and music as well as literature, so it is especially satisfying, and also seems to represent fairly well the notion that while reading hypertext may appear to be following a series of tangents, hypertext composition, perhaps even more so than regular prose writing, involves putting together droplets of thought as they wash over the brain and giving them the cogency of a stream: an act of intense concentration.

If any further justification of my preference of this term is needed, I invite the reader to pursue Godel, Escher, Back: the Eternal Golden Braid.


lo version 0.94 patch 134/026
24 June 1997